This cos heart salad is simple but oh so tasty! Dressed in a creamy buttermilk dressing, garnished with grated parmesan and crispy bacon lardons, it ticks all the boxes for a light and flavourful salad. It can be eaten as a side, an entrée or even a light main course.
Some say salad is boring but I think salad is so much fun because of all the endless possibilities. One just needs to make them right and a well-made salad will shine on its own! You don't always need a lot of ingredients to make salad delicious and memorable!
Sometimes a simple salad like this Cos heart salad with buttermilk dressing and lardons is best! Crisp, fresh, healthy, wholesome, tasty, and beautiful! What more could you ask for in your salad😋
If you are entertaining , this salad is a great option to start your meal with. An uncomplicated but surprisingly complex dish, wherein all ingredients complement each other well, resembling a classic Caesar salad.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO MAKE THE COS HEART SALAD
- Baby cos- these crunchy salad hearts are easily available and have the perfect sweet flavour with a fresh, crisp texture to hold the buttermilk dressing. The whole cos lettuce works well too but the outer leaves will not stay crisp when mixed with other ingredients.
- Lardons- It is just a fancy word for slab bacon sliced into matchsticks. You might find these already pre-cut in a fine food store otherwise ask your butcher for a bacon slab.
- Buttermilk dressing-the buttermilk dressing is what makes this salad stand out. You need just a few ingredients to make this delicious buttermilk dressing so scroll down for the ingredients list.
- Parmesan- I like to grate parmesan over the cos hearts for adding an extra cheesy taste. If you don't have a grater, use shaved parmesan instead.
HOW TO MAKE THE BUTTERMILK SALAD DRESSING
A good dressing is what makes a salad tickle your taste buds so don't ruin your salad with a store-bought one! Instead, make this refreshing homemade buttermilk dressing that is creamy, sweet and tangy! I would highly recommend buying cultured full fat buttermilk rather than a skimmed or a low fat version! Using full fat buttermilk will give the dressing just the right consistency and taste we are after!
The salad dressing may sound rich but it's really not! In fact it is rather light.
Other ingredients needed to make the salad dressing:
-Mayonnaise- gives the dressing body and creaminess. If you do not like mayonnaise, leave it out but then your dressing will be runny!
-White wine vinegar- If you don't have some at hand, you can substitute with lemon juice
-Dijon mustard- if it's too strong for your liking, you can balance out the sharpness with honey
-Parsley-freshly chopped is best! Other herbs like basil, dill or chives also work well!
-Salt and pepper
To make this dressing, simply combine all ingredients together and whisk well.
AS A NOTE: If you can't find buttermilk but planned to make our recipe for cos heart salad with buttermilk dressing and lardons, you could substitute the buttermilk with natural yoghurt for a similar result.
HOW TO COOK THE BACON LARDONS
To make lardons you need a smoked bacon slab. For cooking them, cut about 1 cm (about ½ inch) thick slices from the slab and then cut those into even stripes or batons.
Next, heat a frying pan on high heat and add the lardons to the frying pan without any oil. Reduce the heat to low and cook from all sides shaking the pan occasionally.
The lardons should render in their own fat but don't take them too far otherwise they loose their juiciness. This cooking step takes about 4-5 minutes but trust me it's worth it!
Now, place the lardons on a paper towel to absorb the fat. The result are stripes that are crispy on the outside and juicy, tender on the inside. Perfect for adding texture and richness to the salad without being heavy! Use the lardons to garnish your salad and serve straightaway.
Can you use bacon instead of lardons?
No unfortunately lardons cannot be cut from bacon! Bacon is simply not thick enough to give that textural contrast between the crisp exterior and the meaty interior of the lardons we are after!
Bit if you cannot get your hands on lardons, then of course you can use thinly sliced and cut regular bacon instead. These will be more like skinny little lardons that are crunchier and crisper in texture.
Can you reheat lardons?
Yes, you can reheat lardons but It is best to cook them just before serving. But cooking them in advance could be an option when you are hosting guests and have a lot to make. In such a scenario, I would cook the lardons just until it starts to get crisp. That way when it's time to plate up your salad, you can reheat until it turns crispy.
AS A TIP: Warm on low in an oven or heat in a pan over low heat.
How else can I use bacon lardons?
Classically lardons are used in salads but it can be added to various French stews, omelettes, quiches, tarts or potato dishes. I personally love adding these on top of Flammkuchen, a French flatbread/pizza made with crème fraiche, bacon lardons and onions!! Yumm!! This reminds me, I should do a recipe for Flammkuchen soon!
AS A TIP: Make extra lardons than the recipe calls for!! You will end up nibbling on more than a few before you even start plating up😄
HOW TO PREP YOUR SALAD
No matter where you buy your salad from, it is important to wash and dry your greens thoroughly and yes! that includes pre packed salads too.
The best way to wash salad is in a salad spinner but If you don't have one like me, then you can use a big bowl of cold water instead. Just make sure you shake off any excess water and dry the salad on a paper towel before adding the dressing. The cos hearts should be completely dry otherwise the water can dilute the beautiful salad dressing you have made.
HOW TO PLATE UP THE SALAD
To plate up the salad, first cut the cos hearts in half lengthwise. These can be either two's or four's as per your preference. Place on a plate and drizzle the cos hearts with a generous amount of the buttermilk dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
Next, grate lots of parmesan over the cos hearts and lastly sprinkle the crispy lardons on top!
Ta-Da! your cos heart salad with buttermilk dressing and lardons is ready to serve! This type of plating is perfect for a sharing style table set up!
As an Entrée or a Main
You can also turn the same salad into a beautifully presented entrée or light main for your dinner party.
Plate up two halves of the cos heart in beautiful small plates (like in the picture below) if serving as an entrée. Otherwise, if serving as a main, plate up a larger portion comprising of three pieces.
AS A NOTE: Do not prepare the salad in advance! Instead just prepare all the components beforehand as it will take you only a few minutes to plate it up just before serving! If you prepare the salad in advance the cos hearts will loose their crispness and there is nothing more off putting than serving a soggy salad!
Which dishes can this salad be served with?
This salad is on our weekly menu at home and is always popular whether served as an appetizer, a side salad or as a main. Most consider salad an entrée but honestly, it can be served as a main just like Caesar Salad by serving a larger portion size like in the image below!
Once you have tried this Cos heart Salad with buttermilk dressing and lardons, you will want to make it again! So get creative and try other salad dressings and toppings, the next time you make it!
AS A TIP: For a vegetarian option, just replace the bacon lardons with croutons!
Until then, stay safe, take care and do leave us a comment below when you make this salad! We would love to know if you enjoyed it as an entrée, side dish or a main!
Cos heart salad with buttermilk dressing and lardons
for the salad
- 6 cos heart salad
- 100 g bacon slab (lardons)
- 40 g parmesan
- salt and pepper
for the buttermilk dressing
- 200 g buttermilk full fat
- 20 g mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoon parsley chopped
- salt and pepper
for the buttermilk dressing
- In a bowl combine all the ingredients and whisk well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
for the salad
- cut the cos hearts in half lengthwise and wash in cold water. Dry with a salad spinner or a paper/kitchen towel.
for the lardons
- Cut 1cm (about ½ inch) slices from the bacon slab and then cut those into even stripes or batons.
- Next, heat a frying pan on high heat and add the lardons to the frying pan without any oil. Reduce the heat to low and cook from all sides shaking the pan occasionally.
- The lardons should render in their own fat for about 4-5 minutes. Place the lardons on a paper towel to absorb the fat.
for plating up the salad
- To plate up the salad, cut the cos hearts in half lengthwise in two's or four's and place on a plate. Drizzle a generous amount of the buttermilk dressing over the salad and season with salt and pepper.
- Grate parmesan over the dressed cos hearts and sprinkle the crispy lardons. Serve immediately.